Civic Center – Potsdam NY


The Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA) constructed the historic Potsdam civic center.

NRHP nomination form: “The Potsdam Civic Center shares salient associations with Depression-era New Deal programs and politics, particularly as manifested in the process that led to its construction. It is representative of local community planning efforts by those who endeavored to build it, and remains an important social history document given its use for a wide range of social gatherings since its completion in the mid-1930s. The building is additionally significant as an example of Neoclassical-style civic design, and one which incorporated an existing religious building into its construction. Plans for the building were executed by the office of Lansing, Green & Bisnett of Watertown, New York. The civic center was built to fulfill two needs for the people of the Village of Potsdam. Firstly, it satisfied the need for a community center that could offer space for both village and town offices, a place for local civic organizations to meet, and a new location for the Potsdam Reading Room and Library Association. Secondly, at the time of its construction, there was a great need for relief efforts for the unemployed in and around the surrounding area of Potsdam, and as such its construction provided employment for area building tradesmen. From 1934 to 1935, when the Civic Center was constructed, local workers were employed by the village, using funds from New Deal programs, notably the Civil Works Administration (C.W.A.), in addition to New York’s Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (T.E.R.A.), an important precursor of the federal relief programs. The Potsdam Civic Center was built using recycled Potsdam Sandstone from the demolished municipal building which had occupied a portion of the site previously. Along with that stone, the plans for the civic center also utilized the Universalist Church, which had been donated to the Village for use as a library; this building was reworked and incorporated into the new scheme. Given its continued use, the defined period of significance spans the period from 1934 to 1965. The Potsdam Civic Center today continues to for the purposes originally conceived, as home to the village library and the municipal offices of the village and as a meeting place for various community groups; additionally, since 1940, it has housed the Potsdam Public Museum. It is a highly visible building in Potsdam with manifold significance to the community.”

Source notes

The New York Times: "225,000 GET WAGES IN RELIEF PROGRAM," July 23, 1934 (pg. 13) (accessed Mar. 2018)

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on March 27, 2018.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

2 Park St.
Potsdam, NY 13676

Coordinates: 44.669360, -74.982715

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